Barbarians at the Gates? Murdoch bid challenges independence of Wall Street Journal staff and all of Journalism 5/2/07Posted by Steve Boriss in Barbarians, Fox News, Independence, Journalism, Murdoch, NY Post, Wall Street Journal, Zell.
The cries from Wall Street Journal staffers have been apocalyptic, warning us of impending doom. Said one, “The [Murdoch-owned] New York Post and Fox News are grotesque, fearsome mutants of what newsrooms should be.” Said one of their unions, “[Murdoch] has shown a willingness to crush quality and independence.” But, who’s to say what a newsroom “should be”? Who has the right to determine the criteria against which “quality” is judged? And, beyond the right each of us has to our own independent thoughts and free speech, why should journalists, any more than the rest of us, be immune from the demands of their customers, the difficulties of getting their voices heard in a crowd, the need to remain competitive, and the pressures of staying in business? The 200 year-old gates that have protected journalists from a harsher world are now rusty — gates that had been constructed mostly from proprietary print/broadcast technology, protective government regulations, and arguably anti-competitive business practices (e.g. membership in the AP cooperative). Seasoned business warriors, like new Chicago Tribune/LA Times owner Sam Zell and Rupert Murdoch, are rattling the gates and demanding to be let in. They come in the name of themselves. But, they also come in the name of dissatisfied news consumers and stockholders everywhere. And ultimately, they will not be denied.